Beacon Authors Feature: "Cork and Knife" by Emily and Matt Clifton

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EDITOR’S NOTE ABOUT THIS BOOK SERIES, “READ LOCAL”
Writers have always been a-plenty in New York, but the ones who live in Beacon just keep being published and putting out amazing books! We are featuring them here in our new series, “Read Local.” Sometimes these pieces will be interview-style, while other times they might simply dive into the book. The writer of this series is Phoebe Zinman, who also pens (types) the Writerly Happenings series. Enjoy!
Story Sponsor Opportunity: If you are interested in sponsoring this series, please reach out to us! It is through sponsorships with businesses and individuals that we are able to produce articles like this one.


By Phoebe Zinman

We are going to do a series of articles on some of the extremely talented authors in Beacon. We have a few lined up but we’re very excited to kick it off with food bloggers Matt Clifton and Emily Clifton ahead of the release of their new cookbook, Cork and Knife, published by Page Street Publishing, available Tuesday, August 6!

For those who don’t know Matt and Emily yet, they are well-known food bloggers over at Nerds With Knives, and they keep an impressive real-life garden. Matt is an IT ninja who is British and has helped many a Beaconite with their computers and other various electronic things, and Emily is a visual artist (and in charge of the garden, I am told).

When I first spoke to Matt about the book, it was by phone and I was walking through the Poughkeepsie Galleria trying desperately to find something appropriate to wear to a big work event. Matt, on the other hand, was preparing to leave for a last-minute lesbian cruise to Alaska. That had come about last-minute because his wife and cookbook co-author Emily would be filming as well as screening her new documentary on lesbian country singers. People are the deepest of wells, no?

The next day he dropped off a cookbook that I could peruse, and peruse I did! I put in about 15 Post-It notes on recipes that I decided would make my life way more complete. So far, I’ve made exactly none of them. Which is what I do with every cookbook I’ve ever had. I adore cooking, and I do it all the time… I’m just more of an “instinctual” type of cook as opposed to a recipe-following type.

So, I thought I’d ask Matt and Emily for some advice and also about the process of writing their very gorgeous cookbook, and about some of their favorite recipes. Our interview is below:

Q: How long have you been blogging at Nerds with Knives?

A: Matt: We started in spring of 2013, the year after we moved to Beacon. I think the most accurate origin story is that we were always looking for the best way to organize our Thanksgiving and holiday recipes every year, many of which had been adapted from family members, and a blog seemed like a good fit for a visual artist and an IT professional! Probably about two years in, once Emily developed a visual style for the photography and I found a writing style that fit (funny but informative), the blog started getting more attention. 

Q: Was a book always the goal?

A: No! I think honestly we were surprised that the blog got as much traction as it has, and for a long time it really was just something that we just enjoyed working on for our own benefit and enjoyment. When we started getting visits from random faraway countries (and not just our mums) we realized we’d got an actual live human audience. 

Q: Were you approached or did you approach a literary agent or publishing house?

A: We were approached last spring by Page Street and asked if we’d be interested in working on a book for their cookbook range. They have a pretty wide range of recipe books and have worked with a lot of people we know in the blogging community, including Katrin Bjork, a writer and food stylist/photographer who lived right down our street until this year.

We had been approached for a book by a different publishing company a few years ago and we put together some samples but never heard from them again, so possibly our sense of humor scared them off.

Q: What recipe do you recommend to someone who can’t follow a recipe? I’m an incorrigible improviser, so which recipe is the most forgiving? I was all set to make the Roasted Radishes With Sake and Brown Butter on page 88… and then it was too hot to put on the oven so I just sliced them up and put them on a baguette with butter and salt.

Photo of the Roasted Radish With Sake and Brown Butter recipe.  Photo Credit: Phoebe Zinman

Photo of the Roasted Radish With Sake and Brown Butter recipe.
Photo Credit: Phoebe Zinman

A: Emily says: I’m an incurable recipe tinkerer too and before we started the blog, I don’t think I had ever cooked a dish the same way twice. Braised dishes, like the Chicken Thighs with White Wine, Meyer Lemon and Fennel are perfect for improvising because the technique works well with many different flavor combinations. Switch out the Meyer lemons for limes, and shallots for the fennel, add a little cumin and the dish becomes Latin-inflected. Add cherry tomatoes and basil in place of the lemon and fennel and it’s Italian.

Also the sauce for the Roasted Tofu and Butternut Squash Curry is the perfect refrigerator empty-er. You could throw just about anything in that spicy red coconut curry and it’s going to taste good. 

Q: Which are your favorite recipes and is there a good story about why?

A: Emily: That’s like asking a parent to pick a favorite child! They’re ALL our favorite (just kidding, we definitely like one kid more). Probably for me it’s the Beet and Gin-Cured Salmon because it reminds me of when my family would bring bagels and lox from Zabar’s to my grandparent’s house in Queens. Also it’s just so damn pretty. Also the Chicken Roasted with Sake, Scallions and Ginger because it was one of the first dishes I made for Matt when we were dating. 

A: Matt: I have to say the Pork Belly: That crackling (that we would make for a family Sunday lunch) might just be the best thing in the world. 

Q: The tone of the introduction and chapter intros is really relatable and I like the balance between the historical info, the scientific info and then your practical/personal take on what tastes good together. Did you write them together?

A: Thank you! We did. We wanted the book to be as useful as possible to people with all sorts of skill levels, whether you’re just starting out cooking with alcohol or have been using some spirits but wanted to experiment with flavors. We’re pretty nerdy in general about researching ingredients and techniques, but we tried to keep the information useful, and not just interesting.

We also sought a lot of input from our friends, with special thanks to Sara Milonovich from Artisan Wines (on Beacon’s Main Street), who helped us sound like we knew what we were talking about in the wine sections. 

Q: How was the process of writing this book as a couple? I’m picturing some lovely sepia-tinted reel of you tasting sauces in a most loving way, but then also maybe someone throws the wooden spoon at the wall and says they quit. But then you make a batch of homemade onion rings and decide to give it another go. Who was in charge of what part of the process?

A: Matt: Once Emily had worked on the recipes, in some ways, actually making the book was easier than the week-to-week blog. That sounds odd to say it, but we knew what our deadlines were, we could figure out how many recipes we needed to make and shoot per week, and we gave ourselves a few “break” days just to keep our sanity. There were, I think, two days where we cooked and shot three recipes a day, and there may have been a little fatigue-related spoon throwing on those evenings. 

Generally, Emily worked out most of the recipes (although I took over for a few of the desserts) and is the principal photographer and food stylist. I did most of the writing and assisted on the shoots, unless I had a strong idea of how the styling should go. We shared cooking duties, although for most of the entrées Em will be executive chef in the kitchen and I’ll do sous duties. The process actually really helped us become better collaborators. We both felt a lot of pressure to both meet our deadline and to make the book as good as it could be, so we really worked well as a team. 

Q: What are some of your favorite things to eat in Beacon? 

  • Fried chicken sandwich at Beacon Daily

  • Coffee and any kind of cheese from Beacon Pantry

  • In the winter, a turkey-corn chowder from Bob’s Mountain Deli

  • The granola french toast at Beacon Falls Café

  • The cherry-cheese danishes from All You Knead

  • Not strictly Beacon, but we love both the bibimbap and bulgogi at Toro in Fishkill

  • Nose-to-tail pork ramen at the Roundhouse

  • Takoyaki (octopus dumplings) from Quinn’s

  • Fried chicken from BJ’s

  • Anything with lamb from Kitchen Sink

  • Warm Brussels sprout salad from Melzingah

Phoebe’s Final Burning Question…

My final burning question was what they like to sip on while they are cooking with alcohol (so meta) and discovered that Emily loves a good gin cocktail but worries that it can turn her “from a fun and loose cook to a sloppy and dangerous one pretty quickly” so she sticks with wine, mostly. Similarly, Matt says he has to “limit the amount of actual danger in the kitchen, so I try to limit my chefs-tastes to wine or beer.” 

Solid advice, we think! Stay safe, aspiring chefs of Beacon. And please go congratulate your neighbors (maybe they’ll invite you to dinner)! You can order the book on the usual online outlets like Target and Amazon, or you can get it through Binnacle Books or your favorite local bookstore. Even walking into Barnes and Noble is fun! But don’t forget that the local bookshops can order for you! And then we get to keep the local bookstores here as neighbors.

Journaling Off The Grid - Where To Get Your Journal Book In Beacon

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This month, I wrote my column for our friends at the Highlands Current about journaling. By hand. Preferably in the morning before you do anything else. The article talked about the exercise of moving your hands and fingers for writing in print, cursive or just doodling. It also talked about how to bring your kids into it. Read the article here online if you didn’t catch it in print this week on newsstands.

PS: Yes, there is a misspelling of a word in that photo above. And yes, it is the misspelling of my son’s name. It is missing the “r.” And yes, I am aware of it. And yes, it is what happens when you have three children. Remembering all of the letters in a word can become besides the point as you rush to get things done. :) Or if you need to maybe get tested for dyslexia, which I would actually love to pursue and learn more about.

Journals at Binnacle Books

Binnacle Books is first known for selling new books. But they also sell journals when they come across distinguished versions, because in addition to new books, Binnacle buys old or used books and writerly things.

Like a classic old trusty black leather journal with a wrap-around tie. Good for any person, and not declarative of any kind of whimsy or emotion that you might possibly be putting in there. It is ready for every mood.

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For those with a more outreach-writerly mood, Binnacle has postcard books! Because why simply send a postcard, when you could send a postcard book, designed and produced by a publisher here in Beacon - Paravion Press - out of the old Beacon High School.

Postcard books from Paravion Press, a Beacon-based press. Available at Binnacle Books  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Postcard books from Paravion Press, a Beacon-based press. Available at Binnacle Books
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Blank but stately journals at Binnacle Books  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Blank but stately journals at Binnacle Books
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Journals at Dream In Plastic
(soon to be called Zakka Joy)

I know - before we get into this journal roundup at Dream In Plastic, you must know that shop owner Jenny has been working in the paper world for a while now - curating her storefront to be filled with stationery and kitchen fun - and is moving on from the word “Plastic.” More on that to come in an article. Because right now, we are focusing on what journals are in her shop.

Like these Japanese-inspired journals of many colors. Some are lined with regular old lines, and some are collages of different pieces of paper woven together. One could call these “blank” pages, but they may include grids or other designs. Great for those who fear staring at the blank white empty page.

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The most non-committal form of journaling is to scribble onto random scraps of paper. You could then slip them into this rainbow-hued accordion paper filing book.

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You might think these playful gray elephants below with polka-dotted ears are birthday invitations for a little person, but really, they are mini-journals for YOU. For those who are starting thin - you might not want to commit to a thick book - you could get a mini-journal. If you filled it up, and wanted another, you could have a library of these little journals, and then you could decide how to decorate the cover of the journal with a dated system to order the mini-journals that you accumulate…

PS: Loving those glossy purple nails? Shop owner Jenny got them done at Kim Nails in Wappingers Falls.

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Back by the beard oil in the back of the shop, you’ll find this crackly little journal (and others, it has cousins) for if you are feeling especially literary. And introverted. If you are over-caffeinating, you might as well have the coffee with a chocolate croissant from All You Knead Bakery, to smooth you out a bit.

PS: See that nail color? That’s mine! Not quite as glossy as Jenny’s, but covered. Picked up this polish at Rite Aid, but you can also find nail polish at La Mère on the other side of town on Main Street.

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So… under the sock wall, you’ll find rows and piles of journals. Pick up some of them, and you’ll see pages with flower prints and other prints to make you less scared to face the blank page. Don’t be fooled, though, into thinking this is a totally serious store. Sometimes this shelf holds rows of piles of birthday party plates and cups that sometimes are iridescent and involve unicorns.

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Journals At Play

Located just down the block a smidge from Dream In Plastic is the store called Play. They have journals too, and in different styles. Some covers are heavier than others, and some paper thinner than others. If you’re the kind of person who writes on the reverse page of each page of your journal, then you’ll want to check to make sure these pages are thick enough to handle your ink.

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For the young (or old) musicians in your life, there is the Songwriter’s journal at Play. Parts of the design inside the journal are dedicated to taking special notes if you were to capture sounds from your head, putting them onto paper.

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Journals At No. 3 Reading Room and Photo Book Works

Some real heavy-hitters in the bookmaking business in Beacon are No. 3 Reading Room and Photo Books Works, located down on the east end of town near the mountain, in a quaint building that the business owners and artists bought in order to fit their needs. While mainly closed for a long summer vacation, they will have custom journals using handmade indigo-dyed paper over purse-sized journals, and letterpress-printed bookmarks with quotes about books, poetry and reading available during the holiday season. So be sure to check back!

Pens and Pencils

There are also pens and pencils at both Dream in Plastic and Play, which you could play with as you write in these journals. I know that when I was at the DMV getting amazing service at 4:30 pm to renew the registration on my car (it was weirdly empty at that hour midweek - so weird), the woman helping me loved the pink pen from Dream in Plastic that I took out of my bag to sign the receipt. You might say she was delighted, and wanted to buy that plus kitchen decor for her family member who just moved into an apartment.

Treat yourself. A really easy small spend to make you feel good for weeks and maybe months.

A Little Beacon Blog’s Shopping Guide!

For more shopping tips like this, and to find more shops that also might carry a journal or two in their store - maybe your next favorite journal - see A Little Beacon Blog’s Shopping Guide.

Writerly Happenings: Open Mics, Writer Circle's and Book Club Happenings In June!

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Too Upset To Read?

No one is reading anything these days because the world is insane and everyone is too mad to read. Seriously, it’s a drought out there in terms of book recommendations. I cornered my brainiacs at a party last weekend and - nada. I myself just finished the YA novel “Girls on the Verge,” by Sharon Biggs Waller, and I think it’s probably mandatory reading for everyone. I might follow it up with “Handbook for a Post-Roe America,” by Robin Marty, you know, just to keep things light.  

And I’m again happily and intensely flipping and flopping through Diane Wakoski’s “Emerald Ice: Selected Poems 1962-1987” in the middle of the night. 

In “Sour Milk,” she writes, 

“You can't make it
turn sweet
again.”

True, so true, Diane.

What’s Happening In June

So then, if we aren’t too busy with dismantling the patriarchy or gardening or figuring out where to keep the ice scraper until next year (trunk, someone’s eye, whichever), we’ll see you at one of these amazing writerly happenings all around us.

First of all, put on your calendar under “ways to improve writerly self for next year”: the Sarah Lawrence Summer Seminar. This year’s deadline was Saturday, June 1. If selected, you can join 70 writers for a week of workshops and readings and craft talks. There are scholarships available and you can take a hybrid genre workshop with Cold Spring’s Jeffrey McDaniel, who is a phenomenal teacher and writer (this is said confidently from personal experience in his workshops).

On Wednesday, June 5, you could be at the Writers Speak Easy, a “monthly open-mic roundtable” for writers, poets, comics and storytellers at Rough Draft Books in Kingston from 7 to 9 pm. It’s free but for the purchase of some of the excellent food, drink or books they have on hand. Worth it!

On Friday, June 7, you could head up to Poughkeepsie’s Underwear Factory for Earth Wind  & Fuego’s Fiesta Friday open mic, hosted by Poet Gold, and find yourself among a lovely and strong community of supportive writers. 5 to 10 pm. 

It’s Time To Get Lit

Sunday, June 9, finds us back in the nurturing arms of the Get Lit literary salon at Oak Vino Wine Bar from 5 to 8 pm. These busy bees also started a monthly writers’ circle so you can get some feedback, and just donated loads of books to Beacon High School. 

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Binnacle Books was on the scene to sell copies of “Deadly” and “Looker” at the new Spring Street Reading Series at Atlas Studios in Newburgh on May 17, when Get Lit founder and author Julie Chibbaro read with poet and prose writer Laura Sims and they had a great dialogue afterwards with series curator Ruth Danon. The series gathers a host of creamline novelists, poets, editors and nonfiction writers from the Hudson Valley and beyond. The next one is Saturday, June 29, at 7 pm.

Bringing Newburgh To Beacon

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The Beacon bookstore is also bringing Newburgh to Beacon with a relentlessly enticing Afro-futurism Book Club Series in partnership with the Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center. Starts on Sunday, June 23, with Octavia Butler’s “Kindred” and is from 7 to 8 pm at Binnacle Books. Your recommended $10 donation also gets you a book to use for the duration of the series!

Back over in Newburgh on Wednesday, June 19, PANJA presents The Lit: Book Club at 15 Liberty St. from 7 to 9 pm. This book club “will be prioritizing authors outside the traditional canon; narratives that uplift the voices of POC, women, mystics, immigrants, envelope pushers, and other out-of-the box thinkers whose work touches on issues that tie into current events & critical conversations.” Yes, please.

From Cold Spring

On Saturday, June 15, the new Hudson Highlands poetry series at the Desmond-Fish library in Garrison has a pretty primo lineup of writers reading: Kathleen Ossip, Kristin Prevallet and Marjorie Tesser will thrill you from 1:30 to 2:30 pm. We’ll stop in at Split Rock Books on our way back to Beacon for their One-Year Anniversary Party. Big-time congrats! 

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Speaking of Split Rock Books, we are sorry to not have hyped everyone more on their triumphant score for hosting Susan Choi’s reading of Trust Exercise: a novel, on Friday, May 17. Another past happening we can light up was their Kids Book Club from Beacon resident Deb Lucke and author of The Lunch Witch! Kids 7 to 10 years old could come on Thursday, May 30, from 4 to 4:45 pm and she was there to talk and answer questions.
Editor’s Note: We sadly published this Writerly Happenings too late after the happening, but didn’t want to delete the details! You must know about them in case you want to pursue this book and the Kids Club in the future.

So Then!

We’ll see you beautiful book nerds out and about in the Hudson Valley, whilst gnashing our teeth and talking about our wild irises. 

Writerly Happenings: Friends Who Knew My Cat Way Back When (AKA April Writerly Events)

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We’ve made it to the light of April!

What Everyone Is Reading :: Theme: Friends Who Knew My Cat

The wind is blowing, seasonal allergies are beginning their ravaging Times Square hustle, and the sunsets are magnificent! But March dug her jagged little nails in at the very end and I had to put my cat of 16 years to sleep. So this introduction to Writerly Happenings will honor the reading habits of Friends Who Knew My Cat Way Back When.

Firstly, About My Cat

I rescued her as a tiny kitten from the roof of a crack house on South 12th Street on the way home from work in Philadelphia one July, and that all seems like a lifetime ago. The fact that I just eagerly started “I Must Be Living Twice” by Eileen Myles is fitting, I think.

When I got home with the kitten, my roommate, Miriam Singer, was an absolute angel about the new addition biting her toes. Right now she’s reading “M Train” by Patti Smith but feeling so-so about it. Maybe she should try “Evening in Paradise,” a collection of short stories by Lucia Berlin, because I am swooning over it. Swooning!

Our downstairs neighbor Alexandra was a champion of both cats and pink champagne at happy hour, and she is now reading “The Art of Communicating” by Thich Nhat Hanh and “Who I Am” by Pete Townshend. She once gave me a Freddie Mercury biography by Lesley-Ann Jones that I ate up with a spoon, so her rock memoir recommendations are solid.

Back In The Hudson Valley Writing Community

This event has already passed, but you should know about it, that on Sunday, April 7, you could have gone to Get Lit at Oak Vino and read for 5 minutes yourself, and/or enjoyed featured writer (and visual artist) Will Lessard and writer and musician Mike Faloon. (Don’t miss another Get Lit.)

Get Lit is sponsoring a book drive for Special Education English classrooms at Beacon High School for Get Caught Reading month in May! They’ve teamed up with Binnacle Books, and you can help contribute! A Little Beacon Blog already wrote all about it here. Binnacle Books is otherwise taking a break for their monthly Book Club for a hot minute, partly because they were producing this event, “Reframing Urban Renewal: A Presentation and Discussion,” which was at Fullerton Center in Newburgh for a discussion about urban renewal in the Hudson Valley. It explored creative ways of mobilizing a contested landscape and featured panelists including Ben Schulman of Newburgh Packet, David Hochfelder and Anne Pfau of 98 acres and University of Albany, and artist, academic, and author of “Contested City,” Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani.

Down In Cold Spring…

In the meantime, Split Rock Books in Cold Spring came back from their winter break with a vengeance and is offering approximately 7,000 things for you to do in April. I’m super interested in their reading on Saturday, April 13, with “author, poet and professor Caroline Hagood. ‘In Ways of Looking at a Woman’, a book-length essay that interweaves memoir with film and literary history, Caroline Hagood assumes the role of detective to ask, what is a ‘woman,’ ‘mother,’ and ‘writer’?” There’s also a discussion on Thursday, April 18, of “An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (ReVisioning American History #3)” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, which I’ve been wanting to read. On Thursday, May 16, Split Rock is hosting Susan Choi for her new book “Trust Exercise”. She just got a big write up in the New York Times.

Back In Beacon…

The phenomenal poet Edwin Torres is teaching a series of workshops on Saturdays at Beahive, aiming “to align our natural tri-lingual voice, our voice, with the humanity that defines us. “ Sounds so very good to me!

Thursday, April 18, is “Poem in Your Pocket Day,” as part of National Poetry Month and you should totally put a poem in your pocket and then give it to someone. Also, sign up for Poem-A-Day emails while you are at it! Meanwhile, have you seen the postcard books at Binnacle Books from local publisher Paravion Press, who is located in the old Beacon High School off Fishkill Avenue? So neat.

John Blesso’s Adult Stories is back on Sunday, April 28, if you want to share your work at Oak Vino. Looking ahead to May, we are certain that The Artichoke on Saturday, May 25, is going to sell out again, so maybe get those tickets now!

In the spoken word world…

On Saturday, April 20, there’s Poughetry Fest 2019, a not-to-be-missed festival of spoken and written word at the Cunneen-Hackett Center in Poughkeepsie. There will be a Youth Open Mic hosted by Derick Cross, LGBTQ Open Mic hosted by Jen Herman, the Calling All Poets Series hosted by Mike Jurkovic, the Poet Laureate Room featuring the newly appointed Hudson Valley & beyond Poet Laureates, and the Audre Lorde Room co-curated by Armando Batista. Amazing lineup!

In Newburgh…

Also Ruth Danon is teaming up with Atlas Studios to curate the monthly Spring Street Reading Series beginning on Friday, May 17, with Beacon’s own Julie Chibbaro and NYC hot ticket Laura Sims. We will be there with bells on. Well, we’ll probably take them off before the reading so as not to make a scene.

Also, up in Saugerties they are celebrating poetry all month with readings and sidewalk haiku and poetry and potions/purls and pints(oh my!).

Saturday, April 27, is “Independent Bookstore Day,” so give your local bookseller some big love that can’t fit into a big box.

Got more ideas about where to go for the writerliest of happenings? Please be in touch! phoebe@alittlebeaconblog.com. Or just let me know what you are reading and loving these days.

Writerly Happenings: Live Storytelling, Book Releases & New Writing Opportunities!

Hi Hi Hi! It’s Phoebe here. It’s been so long, I know, did you miss me? We wanted to wait til after the holidays to round up the best of the local literary scene and now we have eaten all the brie and there are so many good writerly happenings afoot to attend! We will do them all! We are leaning in to 2019! Actually, we are so tired, we are mostly falling over, but the love of the written word sustains us, does it not? (Love of the written word, and brie - life sustainers.)

But first we need to discuss what to read right now. This is the transitional part, like when Mr. Rogers changes his shoes and cardigan. (Why, oh why, won’t he ever pick the red one?) 

So… I’m currently reading “The Mastery of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz, which is threatening to turn me into the woman with too many rings on who can’t shut up about the amazingly transformational book she is reading. Also I just ate up the delicious entirety of the new memoir “She Wants It” by Jill Soloway, the creator of “Transparent,” and I highly recommend. Still working on “Warlight” by Michael Ondaatje.

I also asked around for recs. Kristen Holt-Browning, writer and editor and co-producer of Get Lit, just finished reading “Northwood” by Maryse Meijer, a sort of novella-in-poems. She says it's a dark, twisty, fairytale-ish story of desire and obsession and also a physically gorgeous object, with white text printed on black pages. Sounds fierce.

Extremely well-published and well-coifed writer Lily Burana is reading “Thick” by Kiese Laymon, and “How to Write an Autobiographical Novel” by Alexander Chee. She’s happily frolicking in the bumper crop of essay collections that have been published in the past few years.

Ok. I’m ready now. Let’s lean/fall/dive/plunge/bellyflop on in.

January 2019 Writerly Happenings 

This Weekend!

The Artichoke at the Howland. Saturday, January 12, 7:30 pm, is sold out online, but not sure if there will be additional tickets at the door. Mentioning here anyway because it is just so cool that this is coming to Beacon. It’s an evening of live storytelling by The Artichoke, hosted by Drew Prochaska and featuring Sandi Marx (seven-time Grand Slam Winner, The Moth), Jeff Simmermon (Grand Slam Winner, The Moth; This American Life), Drew Prochaska (Risk!; Story Collider), Richard Cardillo (Risk!; Stories from the Stage, Susan Kent (The Moth), Micaela Blei (Grand Slam Winner, The Moth), Vanessa Golenia (Risk!) and John Blesso. Can’t get in? Well there’s another chance to do something similar on Sunday the 20th, but you must read on.

Also on Second Saturday is a book release event for Traffic Street Press’ "Trafficking in Poetry" series. The book "Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands" is a collaboration between Paulette Myers-Rich, the visual artist Greg Slick and poet Seán Monagle. A limited number of copies are available for purchase at the book signing at No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works on Main Street from 3 to 8 pm. 

Get Lit is happening this Sunday, January 13, from 5 to 8 pm at Oak Vino. The featured speakers will be authors Jessie Chaffee and Brendan Kiely, and as always, anyone who wants to read is invited to sign up to do so at the beginning of the event - bring two or three pages of original writing to share. But also if you are new to writing, or sharing your writing, you answer the monthly prompt about what your New Year’s resolutions are, and then sign up for a one-minute slot. Literally, it’s just a hot minute.

Also In January!

On Sunday, January 20 at Dogwood at 5 pm, John Blesso will be hosting the first installment of “Adult Stories,” a new and developing monthly storytelling series that intends to be like The Moth, but edgier. He’s looking for people willing to share “funny stories, harrowing stories, sex stories, emotionally charged stories, and inebriation/bad-choice stories.” If you’re interested please send him pitches for stories between six and ten minutes long! He’s working with Donna Minkowitz and Drew Prochaska on this, if you miss The Artichoke, or just want more storytelling. All the stories!

What’s that about local memoir writer Donna Minkowitz? Funky Spunky Literature Night (Redux) is a game-show-like Community Memoir Write-a-Thon with prizes for the best sentences and scenes that audience members write about their own lives. She will be joined by professional storyteller Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi at Quinn’s on Wednesday, January 30, from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. She’s also got an 8-Week Memoir-Writing Workshop coming up, focused on craft, particularly on using the five senses, lyricism, emotion, storytelling, and critical insight to create profound and relatable works of memoir. Wednesday nights from February 6 through March 27, 7 to 9 pm. To apply, please email minkowitz46@gmail.com with a one-page writing sample.

Poet and teacher extraordinaire Ruth Danon (to whom I’m a bit partial, not going to even pretend otherwise) is going to start writing improvisation classes the week of January 29. Currently she’s planning on Tuesdays, from 9:30 am to 12 pm and 7 to 9:30 pm, but the time can be flexible based on everyone’s schedules… The fee is $275 for eight weeks and includes a private conference (at least one) and a public reading. Contact ruthdanonpoetry@gmail.com for more information.

Beacon’s magnificent Binnacle Books is featuring “The Great Believers” by Rebecca Makkai for its next book club. I loved that book. So, so much sobbing. This month the book club will meet at the bookstore, but often is at Dennings Point Distillery.

And just downstream (or not, as our majestic and tidal Hudson River flows both ways) in Cold Spring, Split Rock books has a million events, or at least five, to get you through January and smarter on the other end.

The divine “Out Stealing Horses” by Per Petterson was the January book club choice at the Beacon Library, and we were sad to miss it, but the pick for February is “The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper” by Phaedra Patrick and it sounds charming. The Butterfield Library in Cold Spring has a writing workshop with Susan Wallach in January and almost always a box of free books to rummage.

As always, we want to big up independent bookstores that may be a bit farther afield:

Rough Draft in Kingston has happy hours, sip and writes and plenty of other happenings; the Golden Notebook in Woodstock has a terrific event lineup, as usual; and we are wanting to go check out Oblong Books which has somehow escaped our research until now. We’ll report back next month.

Now dear reader, go put on a cardigan and some fresh slippers and get to it. Write! Read! Make it happen!

Chronogram Publisher, Luminary Media, Launches "The River," Local News for the Hudson Valley

Local news coverage is getting more options here in Beacon and the Hudson Valley. Luminary Media, the creators of longtime favorite for the arts, Chronogram, have launched an online “newsroom” to add to local coverage for the Hudson Valley.

Driving their mission is expanding access to local news. According to their About page: “Locally, we’re fortunate to have some great community-based local weeklies, owned and created in the Hudson Valley. But only some of our communities are lucky in this way. In fact, many areas in the Hudson Valley have no local coverage, and others don’t have more community coverage than afforded by the police blotter or random Facebook posts.”

The River promises to provide coverage “from Newburgh to Hudson, from Woodstock to Beacon.” You can visit it anytime on their website, or subscribe to it via their newsletter. Of course Beacon has local news outlets like A Little Beacon Blog (minus the police blotter… We don’t get into that), Highlands Current, The Beacon Free Press (though not online much), The Valley Table (based on Main Street Beacon), edible Hudson Valley, The Poughkeepsie Journal (though you can hardly read the articles between the video and ad pop-ups, and they throttle number of articles), News Channel 12 (on channel 63 on cable), and engaging Instagram accounts like EatingBeacon and Beacon Transplant.

The River Is A Newsroom On Civil, A Blockchain Newsroom Of The People

Journalism as a whole is always evolving. Local journalism is always evolving extra quickly, fighting to survive, sometimes with funding, sometimes without. Sometimes local journalists write for free, sometimes there are sponsors and advertising campaigns that help it all continue. Local journalism is actually super fun to be involved in.

However, in order to keep doing it, publications need to get creative in how they get funding. Enter a new media company, Civil, a “blockchain” newsroom powered by cryptocurrency with no ownership: Well, no ownership in theory… There’s a constitution explaining this, and a work-in-progress Beginner’s Guide that is a public Google Doc explaining how it works.

The River is a newsroom running on Civil, which is a company started by journalists and marketing professionals, inspired by decades of events that cloud publishing and advertising. Most recently, sadly, the total wiping out of huge local media companies Gothamist and DNAInfo. The publisher of these online publications didn’t want his editors and journalists to unionize, and in a tizzy, took them offline, wiping out history of local coverage including real estate development disputes, landlord investigations, politics, events, openings, new business stories, and more. Poof, gone. Years of journalists’ work was wiped out. Which gives rise to print and local newspapers that often get underappreciated, yet archived in libraries.

Later, WNYC and two other public radio stations acquired Gothamist, and the articles and radio stories have only gotten richer. The archives of Gothamist and DNAInfo did reappear online, and some folks from DNAInfo started something new called Block Club Chicago, which also is an official newsroom on Civil.

So journalists today are pretty emotionally and professionally damaged by the decisions of some publishers, and it is no wonder why they seek a publisher-free news outlet on which to publish their stories. According to Civil’s CEO, “Civil is building a newsroom platform using blockchain technology and cryptoeconomics to create an open marketplace for journalists and citizens. In Civil’s self-governing marketplace, readers may directly sponsor journalists, and journalists collaboratively run their own publications, called Newsrooms.”

Will This New Blockchain Newsroom Work?

Anything blockchain-related seems to be pretty high-concept. The premise behind an ad-free newsroom is noble, but as with everything, decisions come down to people and relationships. Even if a journalist is sponsored by a citizen, that citizen may accumulate a lot of special dollars-not-dollars called CVL Tokens, which is Civil’s currency in how journalists get paid.

We are witnessing a destabilization of social media-based gathering places for information - which started out as a hands-off, uncensored way to micro-publish information by anyone. However, we are witnessing a change, as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and others are removing posts and accounts. Some regular-person admins of groups enact grand gestures of power by locking a group or deleting it entirely, thereby paralyzing anyone who had posts on it that wants them removed and cannot, as per Facebook’s rules. The overuse or misuse of power may not only reside with publishers, and may be a human thing.

In the meantime, The River’s new source of news is a welcome addition to what we can find out about facets of life here in the Hudson Valley. Go sign up.

Writerly Happenings: Growing Local Community of Writers and Readers - November 2018

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Hi There, Reading Anything Good These Days? 

It’s Phoebe here - kicking off this column with what everybody is reading here at A Little Beacon Blog before we dive into the second installment in this new column, Writerly Happenings.

I just returned Peter Carey’s new “A Long Way From Home” to the library without getting too far, though he’s usually a favorite. Now I’m starting “The Glitch” by Elizabeth Cohen, which passed me by when it was published in 2012, but I’ve heard good things. 

Katie is reading edible Hudson Valley’s Fall issue about the secret hotel created by an app developer of luxury cars (what?!). He wouldn’t even let them take full photos - all secret photos.

Marilyn, our Managing Editor, is actually blogging about her yoga teacher training experience at her blog, Ink and Coffee.

Catherine, our Editor of the Art Gallery Guide, is reading science. Science! Actually it’s Anatomy this week. She is back in school to be a nurse.

Speaking of good things, here’s the second installment of this new A Little Beacon Blog Guide to Writerly Happenings. Every couple of weeks I round up the best events happening in our growing local community of writers and readers and the people who love them.

WRITERLY HAPPENINGS IN BEACON & COLD SPRING

On Wednesday, November 7, Binnacle’s Book Club meets from 7 to 8 pm at Denning's Point Distillery to discuss “Lake Success,” by Gary Shteyngart. If you are going and want to buy the book at Binnacle, you get 10% off this title. I’m sorry to have missed the reading of “The Seas,” by Samantha Hunt, on Wednesday the 24th, but staying tuned for more events to come.

The littlest Halloweenies and literary types might love the storytime and costume contest at Split Rock Books in Cold Spring on Sunday the 28th with David Quinn, author of “Go To Sleep, Little Creep.” Grown-ups should check out local author and journalist Virginia Sole-Smith’s reading from her first book, “The Eating Instinct” - described as “a personal and deeply reported exploration of how we learn to eat in today's toxic food culture,” on Saturday, November 10, from 7 to 8 pm.

Get Lit Beacon has its monthly writer salon at Oak Vino on Sunday, November 11. Featured speaker will be notable author Leland Cheuk. Get Lit offers an option for any writer to read their own stuff, so you should also sign up to read some of your work. And - they made T-Shirts! So far you can only buy them at the event, so go. Last month featured a very engaging professional storyteller explain how to tell a story, as well as local journalists Brian Cronin of the Highlands Current, and Katie of A Little Beacon Blog.

On Tuesday, November 13, poets from Ruth Danon’s Live Writing workshops take over Quinn’s for a reading of their work. We’ll be back with an update once the Facebook event page is up. 

Beacon’s new Poet Laureate, who has not yet been announced, will be inducted on Tuesday, November 20, at the Beacon Library in the Community Room from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. 

OPEN MIC NIGHTS THAT LITERARY TYPES MIGHT LIKE

For monthly musical open mic nights, check out The Falcon Underground in Marlboro, the Wherehouse in Newburgh, the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon and Fiesta Friday in Poughkeepsie.

Calling All Poets is having an open mic night at the Towne Crier in Beacon on Thursday, October 15, and on Friday, November 2, at its First Friday reading series up in New Paltz at Roost (the open mic on Friday, December 7, will feature Beacon local Ruth Danon).

FARTHER AFIELD 

Rough Draft Bar & Books hosts a reading on Tuesday, October 30, with local author John Langan reading from his horror novel set near the Ashokan Reservoir. Sounds scary and also totally worth a trip to Kingston.

We are prepared to tailgate to hear Roxane Gay discuss her book “Bad Feminist” on Wednesday, November 7, at Vassar. And we might have to because it’s first-come, first-serve to get in. Get your elbows ready!

And we are super excited that former Beacon resident Jon Beacham is back in the Hudson Valley and has opened The Brother In Elysium Books. This Tivoli bookstore had its grand opening at the end of September, a poetry reading earlier this month and in addition to focusing on poetry, literature, art, design, photography and film, also carries used and out-of-print books, actively buys books and “is also home to The Brother In Elysium publishing imprint and letterpress studio.”

We’ll see you back here in a couple weeks with more upcoming events. Tell us where to go and what to read in the meantime, if you like. phoebe@alittlebeaconblog.com

Wikipedia Is Written By Mostly Men - Beacon Library Aims to Change That With Edit-A-Thon Event

Consider this a call to action.

Consider this a call to action.

WHAT: Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon
WHERE: Howland Public Library
DAY: Saturday, March 24,
TIME: 11am - 3pm
RSVP here

You've read Wikipedia, right?

You've been in the car, in a restaurant, at a Trivia Night, sneaking views on Wikipedia to quickly answer a Very Big Question, like: "Were women really not allowed to own property?" Answer: You are correct! They weren't, until the Married Women's Property Act in 1939, when men needed to protect or hide their property from debt collectors during an economic crisis, and put their property into the name of their wives. Thanks Wikipedia for that info.

Wikipedia gets its info from the public - it's crowd-sourced - so random people contribute their knowledge with links and citations to back it up, thus creating this ever-growing encyclopedia.

Trouble is, according to a 2011 study, only 9% of these public editors are women. Editors can be anyone, but most of them are men.

Seeking: Women Editors on Wikipedia

Two librarians from the Beacon library are spearheading a local effort to better represent women on Wikipedia. As part of an Art+Feminism Edit-A-Thon, Rajene Hardeman and Gina Shelton are calling for people - of all gender identities and expressions - to participate in the daylong event on Saturday, March 24, at the Howland Public Library. The goal, in honor of Women's History Month, is to improve coverage of gender, feminism, and the arts on Wikipedia. Beginner Wikipedians are welcome! According to organizers, Art+Feminism Edit-A-Thons across the world have created and improved more than 11,000 articles since 2014.

Women make up about half of the population, so you’d think they’d (we’d) be represented equally on Wikipedia, right? Well, no, not so much. There are wayyyy fewer articles about women, and traditionally feminine topics, on Wikipedia according to this article, "Gender bias on Wikipedia" on Wikipedia. The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit group behind Wikipedia and other public-information-focused sites, did a survey in 2010 to learn more about who pitches in to this colossal encyclopedia. It showed that less than 13 percent of contributors to Wikipedia's English-language pages were women. The 2011 survey showed the number had fallen further, to about 9 percent. Wikipedia author Sarah Stierch informally surveyed more than 300 other female contributors to dive into the “whys” behind women’s participation.

Survey says... A Supportive Community Can Help Narrow the Online Gender Gap

Stierch asked about women’s experiences participating in the author/editor process at the massive behind-the-scenes Wikipedia community. Most of the people who answered the survey said they enjoyed contributing, calling it fun and empowering. Some survey respondents talked about name-calling, harassment, racist/homophobic/sexist bias, argumentative behavior, and other forms of generally exhausting hassle - sometimes gender-based, sometimes not. But one response stood out: "I don't see how having a majority male editor population has harmed me, or any other women. I don't see how changing it will benefit me. I don't think the lack of equal representation is driven by anything other than failure to show up and help.”

astronauts Dr. Jan Davis (left) and Dr. Mae Jemison working on the space shuttle endeavor in 1992. They were among the first american women in space. Photo credit: Nasa/wikimedia commons

astronauts Dr. Jan Davis (left) and Dr. Mae Jemison working on the space shuttle endeavor in 1992. They were among the first american women in space.
Photo credit: Nasa/wikimedia commons

Here's the thing: The lack of equal representation is itself harmful! Don’t historic women deserve the same equal representation? Of course they do! And current and future women - and men! - suffer the consequences of that lack of equal representation. People of all genders can have a hard time envisioning women in certain fields - because there’s not as much high-quality coverage and visibility. It’s time for that to change. Remember, 9% of the edits made on Wikipedia according to that survey in 2011 were made by women. Wikipedia is nothing but edits. The whole entire thing is edits.

Ready... Set... Edit Wikipedia! Here's How:

So. Are you fired up? Ready to go? Join the Edit-A-Thon on Saturday, March 24, at the Howland Library from 11am - 3pm. Organizers request that you bring your laptop, power cord, and ideas for entries that need updating or creation. New to this whole Wiki-editing thing? Fear not: The edit-a-thon will include tutorials for the beginner Wikipedian, ongoing editing support, reference materials, and refreshments. Don’t forget to RSVP - gotta make sure there are enough refreshments, right?

If you can’t make it to this event, there are other ways to pitch in. Event organizer Art+Feminism is a great place to start. The Women in Red WikiProject is another group working on bringing Wikipedia up to parity. Get involved when and how you can. That’s the great thing about the Internet. 24/7. Ready when you are. Even on snow days.

Groups for Writers Proliferate in Beacon

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It’s a good time to be a writer in Beacon! If you are an aspiring wordsmith, an accomplished author, or looking to find a supportive literary community to help you work though a current project, there are so many resources for you right now. Here’s a rundown of some of what’s currently on tap.

Get Lit Beacon

This fabulous new literary salon, started by talented local author Julie Chibbaro (National Jewish Book Award winner for Deadly, a Junior Library Guild Selection for Into the Dangerous World, and American Book Award winner for Redemption), meets on the second Sunday of each month at Oak Vino Wine Bar at 389 Main St. You can find out more on the group's Facebook Page, but the idea is that it’s a casual gathering where published and aspiring adult writers of any genre can hang out, have a glass of wine and share their work. Feeling like expressing yourself? There’s a sign-up sheet at the door if you want to read aloud. Chibbaro reveals the genesis of the group: “I started this event because I often hear about other writers in my town, but since I’m a homebody, I don’t get to meet them. This is a way for me to invite them out and hear their work.”

There have been two Get Lit salon events so far, and they were both inspiring and well-attended. The next one, scheduled for Sunday, March 11, will feature a reading by novelist and children’s book author Jennifer Castle.

High School Writing Lab & Zine Club

Are you a teen and a writer? Beacon has you covered, too. The Howland Library has a writing group for teens designed to provide support, assistance, and encouragement for students in grades 9-12 who are working on school or creative writing projects and college essays. There’s also a Zine Club for writers, artists, and photographers (the next meeting is Friday, March 16, from 3 to 5 pm). More info about this and other great library offerings for teens can be found here on the Howland Public LIbrary's website (the top says February but it is March's events). In the past, the library has offered help sessions for writers in high school.

Other Goings-On for Writers at the Howland Public Library

Also at the library is an ongoing Book Club, an upcoming book launch for Judith Filc (Thursday, April 12). The Howland Library just hosted (on Saturday, March 3) a memoir-writing workshop for adults with Donna Minkowitz, the author of two memoirs, Ferocious Romance (a Lambda Literary Award winner) and Growing Up Golem (a finalist for both a Lambda Literary Award and the Judy Grahn Nonfiction Award). Donna became known for her coverage of gay and lesbian politics and culture in The Village Voice from the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, for which she won a GLAAD Media Award. She is a former feature writer for the Village Voice, and has also written for New York magazine, Ms., The Collagist, The Advocate, and Newsday. She teaches with the New York Writers Workshop and independently - sometimes in Beacon!

The Artist’s Way – A Creative Cluster

For folks who want to reflect on their own creative process, or tap into something that needs unclogged, this Creative Cluster is an exciting and creative group that meets at A Little Beacon Space on Sundays. It loosely follows the classic book, The Artist's Way, created and written by Julia Cameron. The group is being “lightly led” by Katie Hellmuth Martin. According to the event page's description, this is a “gentle group, where people who are reading the book and going through their journey can share their thoughts and connect with others.” Artists, Non-Artists, Regular People, and People Who Want To Be An Artist But Think They Are Far From Being An Artist are welcome. This session runs from March to May and is full, but check back for info about the next session. Lots of answers to all of your questions about participating can be found here.

Classes, Readings and Book Clubs

Around town, several writing groups who would like to remain anonymous meet regularly at various watering holes and other locations. At their meetings, more active or professional writers workshop their projects and critique one another’s work. There's even a secret writers' group who won't reveal their details, but we can tell you that they meet inside of The Telephone Building, which is also the location of A Little Beacon Blog's office. They are so elusive and quiet as they hide behind their laptops, that we can only tell you that it’s for writers who have been published in national magazines and so forth.

If you are interested in small writers workshops or classes, poets Ruth Danon will soon be offering some in Beacon, while Jeffrey McDaniel offers workshops in Cold Spring. And Julie Chibbaro, of Get Lit Salon fame, also offers a writing workshop that is mostly for fiction and non-fiction writers.

On Facebook, there are a few Book Clubs, like The Beacon Book Club, and The Beacon Moms Book Club.

Finally, we can’t pass up a chance to big-up Binnacle Books at 321 Main St., Beacon, NY. They offer an impressive selection of books, a willingness to order anything we want as long as it’s available, and a number of great readings, events and book club meetings.

Plus, see here for the great lengths gone to by Beacon Reads, the little bookstore next to the Howland Public Library. Proceeds from their book sales (of donations and retired library books) go toward the Howland Public Library. In this photo below, a volunteer from Beacon Reads hand-delivered a copy of The Artist's Way to the first meeting of the creative cluster.

A volunteer from Beacon Reads (left) hand-delivered a copy of  The Artist's Way  to a study group participant, Martha P. Humphreys (right). Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

A volunteer from Beacon Reads (left) hand-delivered a copy of The Artist's Way to a study group participant, Martha P. Humphreys (right).
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin